The Miami Dolphins may have lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last night, but it was just a preseason game. These games, and especially last night's "dress rehearsal" game, are all about getting repetitions, evaluating players, and tuning up for the regular season. It's the second of those three objectives that takes our focus today. Who helped themselves? Who hurt their chances of making the roster, or holding onto a spot on the depth chart?
Stock Up: Ryan Tannehill. Miami's second year quarterback clearly looks ready for the regular season. He's making good decisions and is getting rid of the ball well, when he makes those decisions. He is still waiting too long on some plays, so the decision making needs to speed up, but you cannot fault the decisions when they are made. He was 17-for-27 for 150 yards and a touchdown last night, with the stat line potentially being better of he had not been the victim of some bad drops. On the preseason, Tannehill has three touchdown passes with no interceptions.
Stock Down: Charles Clay. It was a rough game for Clay as he looks to replace Dustin Keller as the starting tight end for the Dolphins. He had a few bad drops, only bringing in one pass of the six that headed his way. Clay is still in the lead for the top tight end spot, but he has to have better performances than what we saw last night.
Stock Up: Paul Soliai. Simply put, Soliai was a force last night. He was constantly double and triple teamed, and he was still wrecking the offensive line. Soliai was in the backfield all night, including on two tackles for loss. He plugged holes and freed the linebackers to track down plays, which is exactly what he should be doing. The former Pro Bowler looked good last night.
Stock Down: Special Teams. Tomorrow should be a long, long day for the special teams unit. The Dolphins have preached no turnovers on offense and takeaways on defense. The special teams gave away the ball twice yesterday, once on a punt return where Nolan Carroll was blocked back into the path of the ball and once on a return from Marcus Thigpen. The Carroll play led to a touchdown for Tampa Bay, while the Thigpen fumble resulted in a Bucs field goal. Special teams coach Darren Rizzi will get it fixed, but it was ugly last night.
Stock Up: Brandon Fields. I don't know if Fields' stock can actually go any higher, but he again was a weapon in the field position battle. He averaged 52.8 yards per kick over his five punts, with a long of 63. He pinned the Buccaneers inside the 20 twice, including a good old fashioned coffin corner kick that bounced out at the four yard line. How Fields has not been to the Pro Bowl, I don't understand.
Stock Up: Pass rush. The Dolphins sacked Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman five times during the game. Jonathan Freeny, Jared Odrick, Josh Kaddu, Olivier Vernon, and Kelcie McCray all go to the fifth year passer. Part of that was obviously the ability of Soliai to eat up blockers, but Miami's pass rush, even without third overall pick Dion Jordan, was impressive.
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